A £107 million Scottish Government funding boost for health and social care services will cut bed blocking, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister said Scotland’s integrated health and social care system of NHS and council services was “world-renowned and envied across the UK”.
She said the additional £107m funding transfer from the NHS to health and social partnerships announced in the Scottish Government’s draft budget last month would enable more patients to be cared for at home and cut demand for hospital stays, reducing the worsening problem of delayed discharge.
Delayed discharge, also known as bed blocking, occurs when patients are well enough to leave hospital but have to wait for support to be put in place in their own home or for a vacancy at a care home.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Integration is one of the most ambitious programmes of work this government has ever undertaken and one which we believe will deliver health and social care services that work more efficiently, putting people at the very heart of treatment decisions.
“That is why this £107m additional funding across Scotland is so important.
“Not only does it ensure that patients can receive more treatment in their communities where we know they are more comfortable, but it also reduces demand for acute hospital usage by reducing avoidable admissions, lengths of stay and delayed discharges.
“Our social-care system is world-renowned and envied across the UK and, as a shared priority between the Scottish Government and local government, spend on this has been protected in Scotland. This additional funding maintains that for 2017-18.
“This is in direct contrast to the situation in England and Wales, where six consecutive years of cuts to local authority budgets have seen 26% fewer people get the help they need.”
The latest figures show 1,576 people were affected by delayed discharge from Scottish hospitals in October 2016 - up from 1,524 the previous month.
Earlier this week, Labour revealed 683 patients previously declared medically-fit to leave had died in hospitals across Scotland while waiting to be discharged between the start of March 2015 and the end of September 2016.
The Scottish Government has allocated a further £30m a year to reduce delayed discharges.
Ms Sturgeon was speaking on a visit to Midlothian Community Hospital in Bonnyrigg, where she met patients receiving physiotherapy and older people attending a day centre.